Small farms in the UK and across world should form a 'global cooperative' committed to producing food to high standards, Prince Charles has said.
Writing to The Guardian, the Prince of Wales said small farmers could collaborate with a greater focus on combatting climate change amid an increasingly uncertain time for their businesses.
His comments come as small family-run farms in the UK prepare for the loss of EU subsidies and controversial post-Brexit trade deals that could undercut them.
Overall, a fifth of English farms have disappeared in the past 10 years, but the rate is fastest amongst the smallest farms, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
Almost a third of farms under 50 hectares disappeared between 2005 and 2015, its report, released in 2017, showed.
But Prince Charles told The Guardian that small farmers could 'come together' to form a 'global cooperative' which had high production standards at its heart.
"With the skills of ethical entrepreneurs and a determination from the farmers to make it work, I would like to think it could provide a very real and hopeful future," he said.
“To me, it is essential the contribution of the small-scale family farmer is properly recognised – they must be a key part in any fair, inclusive, equitable and just transition to a sustainable future.
"To do this, we must ensure that Britain’s family farmers have the tools and the confidence to meet the rapid transition to regenerative farming systems that our planet demands."
He added: "These [small] farmers are some of the most hard-working and innovative small businesses and, in so many ways, we depend on them far more than most of us will ever know."
During last year's lockdown period of the Covid-19 crisis, Prince Charles said the UK owed farmers 'an enormous debt of gratitude' for producing food.
Speaking to the Country Life magazine, he talked about his new found appreciation for the British farming industry which had developed because of the pandemic.